Marriage Equality in Texas
Last week I was at the Travis County Courthouse at uncontested docket and for the first time in my career, I saw a divorce prove-up for a same-sex couple. It is really interesting, as a family law attorney, to see how your practice can change overtime based on how the Supreme Court rules on certain legal issues.
The Texas Constitution defines marriage as follows: “Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.” Further, Section 2.001 of the Texas Family Code states that a marriage license may not be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its’ decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and ruled that, “The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty and states must recognize lawful same-sex marriages performed in other states.” The majority opinion further states, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.”
With this opinion, the right to marry has now been recognized as a fundamental right that is granted equal dignity in the eyes of the law, regardless of whether it is a same-sex or heterosexual couple. For the first time in our nation’s history, states (including Texas), cannot deny a same-sex couple the right to marry that is extended to heterosexual couples.
Now, many same-sex couples living in Texas, who were lawfully married in other states, are able to file for divorce in Texas. Same-sex couples in Texas are subject to the same laws and have the same rights, as set forth in the Texas Family Code as it pertains to division of property, child custody, and other issues that arise in a dissolution of marriage proceeding. Further, same-sex couples preparing for marriage are able to participate in the same marriage planning as heterosexual couples who want premarital agreements or postmarital agreements.
At Gray & Becker, P.C., our family law attorneys have worked with same-sex couples for years. We are happy to assist those with issues involving divorce, child custody, property agreements, spousal maintenance, and other family law issues. Please contact Trisha Dixon to learn more about your rights in Texas family law.